Robert Clark, Co-Chair

Newark Opportunity Youth Network 

With over 22 years of experience in youth development, Robert Clark is the first YouthBuild graduate to found a YouthBuild program in a major city--Newark, NJ. Since launching YBN in 2003, Mr. Clark has been instrumental in establishing its national reputation for promoting juvenile justice reform, re-entry programming for school-aged young people, and vocational training. He is also the leading visionary behind the Newark Opportunity Youth Network (NOYN), a cross-sectoral city-wide initiative launched in 2016, that manages a collective of organizations committed to supporting Opportunity Youth, Including NJ's first Alternative Charter school: LEAD. 

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Celia M. King, Co-Chair

Leadership Newark

CeliaKing.jpg“It is an honor and a privilege to be able to contribute as a board member of the Newark Trust for Education. As an independent organization, we work diligently on behalf of the students of Newark, and our focus is high student achievement and academic excellence for all students.”

Celia M. King serves as the executive director of Leadership Newark, Inc., where she is responsible for ensuring a myriad of citizens committed to the City of Newark, enhance their skills and knowledge based on numerous public policy issues affecting the community.

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The Hon. Ras J. Baraka, Ex-Officio Member

City of Newark

OfficialPic_Mayor_Baraka_CROPPED.jpgMayor Ras J. Baraka was elected Mayor of the City of Newark in May 2014, becoming Newark's 40th Chief Executive since the City's incorporation in 1836.

A native of Newark, whose family has lived in the City for more than 70 years, Mayor Baraka was educated in the Newark Public schools and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History from Howard University in Washington, D.C. and a Master's Degree in Education Supervisions from St. Peter's University in Jersey City.

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Nancy Cantor


NancyCantor_NTE_Board_CROPPED.jpg"As an educational leader I have devoted my advocacy to making more real the promise of higher education as the road to social mobility, a context for democratic practice, and a participant in community building and public problem-solving."

Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark since January 1, 2014, is a distinguished higher education leader who is helping to forge a new understanding of the role of universities in society.

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Alejandra Ceja

Panasonic Foundation


Alejandra Ceja is the Executive Director of the Panasonic Foundation.  Ceja assumed this role in June of 2017 and is responsible for leading the Foundation’s investments in educational equity.

Ceja is the former Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. She was appointed by the White House in 2013 to serve President Barack Obama and the U.S. Secretary of Education to increase the educational attainment and life outcomes of Hispanics across the nation.  In this capacity, Ceja helped cultivate 150 Commitments to Action totaling $335 million to build on and accelerate federal, state, and local investments in high quality education for Hispanic students.

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Irene Cooper-Basch

Victoria Foundation

ICB.jpg“While reform efforts and superintendents come and go, the Trust is here for the long haul to ensure that student outcomes follow a positive, upward trajectory."

In June 2006, Irene Cooper-Basch became the third Executive Officer and Secretary of the Board for Victoria Foundation, a private grantmaking institution founded in 1924,with current assets totaling $200 million. Prior to this appointment, she served as a Program Officer at Victoria Foundation and the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey for10 years. Both foundations have a strong grantmaking focus on the city of Newark, New Jersey.

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Jacqueline Cusack, Ed.D.

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)

Jacqueline_Cusack.jpgJackie Cusack currently serves as Executive Director for the Center for Pre-College Programs at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). In this capacity she leads the development and administration of the university, state, and federally funded programs for underserved elementary and secondary students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). During her tenure at NJIT, which began in 2012, Ms. Cusack has also served as Consultant to the President and Special Assistant to the Vice President in the Division of Academic Support and Student Affairs. Other professional experience includes serving as Consultant to the Montclair Public School District and as Executive Director of the Montclair Child Development Center.

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Josephine Garcia

Newark Board of Education 

Josephine Garcia, a Newark resident for nearly four decades, serves as a Legislative Aide to City of Newark Council Member, Carlos M. González. She has garnered various accolades for her extensive work with the community during her 18 years of service as a municipal employee.


She has a vested interest in Newark Public Schools, having graduated two of her three sons out of high schools in her beloved City. As a concerned parent, Josephine served 10 years on the Parent Council Executive Committee at the Robert Treat Academy (RTA) and five years as a volunteer of the Science Park High School (SPHS) Parent-Teacher Association. Her accomplishments in these capacities include: spearheading successful initiatives, such as the well-attended International Night at SPHS; helping to raise several thousands of dollars at a magnet fundraiser event at RTA and multiple sold-out RTA movie nights. She also has assisted leading her fellow parent council members in the implementation of a healthier lunch program for RTA students.

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Shané Harris

Prudential Foundation

shaneharris.png“As a local education fund, The Trust works to reduce fragmentation of efforts and mobilize civic leadership.”

Shané Harris serves as the Vice President of The Prudential Foundation, where she is responsible for management of Foundation staff and program strategy and overseeing the distribution of $25 million in annual Foundation grants. Ms. Harris oversees education policy for Prudential’s Community Resources Department and advises senior management on their support of education initiatives. She also serves as Secretary of the Foundation.

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Fr. Edwin Leahy, O.S.B.

Saint Benedict's Preparatory School

Father Edwin D. Leahy, O.S.B., became the 23rd Headmaster of Saint Benedict's Preparatory School in 1972. Having graduated from St. Benedict's Prep in 1960, he earned a B.A. in philosophy from Seton Hall University in 1968 and a Master’s in Divinity with distinction in 1975 from the Woodstock College at Union Theological Seminary, New York. In 1966 he took his first vows as a monk of the Benedictine Abbey of Newark and was ordained to the priesthood in 1972. Fr. Edwin began his work at St. Benedict's Prep in 1967, teaching biology and religion and assisting with the wrestling and American football teams. Following the suspension of operations of St. Benedict's in 1972, Father Edwin was named to direct the efforts of monks, interested parents, alumni and friends to re-open the School as soon as was feasible. Under his direction St. Benedict's re-opened in 1974 with 89 students and 14 faculty members.

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Superintendent Roger León

Newark Public Schools

Roger León

Roger León was born in the city of Newark, grew up in the city of Newark, remains a proud product of the Newark Board of Education, dedicated 25 years of service to the children in the Newark Public Schools, and still lives in Newark.

Mr. León attended Hawkins Street School from Kindergarten to 8th grade and graduated from Science High School. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences at Rutgers University and was determined to remain in Newark to teach and impact lives at both of his alma maters. For three years, he taught 5th grade at Hawkins Street School and was the Head Coach of the Science High School Debate Team for eight years. His classes won local competitions and his students demonstrated high academic growth. The debate team won local, state, and national championships. The 8th Grade Algebra Pilot resulted in his move to Rafael Hernández Elementary School. Mr. León taught Algebra I to 8th graders for high school credit and provided intensive professional 

development in mathematics to Newark teachers across the district. The success of this project resulted in hundreds of 8th grader students earning high school credit in Algebra I, teachers earning dual certification in Mathematics, and the district’s highest elementary mathematics standardized test scores in years.

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Raymond Ocasio

La Casa de Don Pedro

Ray_Ocasio.jpg“The Trust’s only constituencies are the students and parents of Newark.”

Since 1998 and under Mr. Ocasio’s stewardship La Casa has experienced tremendous growth and consolidation of its programs and advocacy activities while adding vigor to its economic development work by employing a focused, targeted, comprehensive and integrated strategy plan.

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Barbara Reisman

Maher Charitable Foundation

Barbara_Keruv.jpg"One of our primary goals is to keep the public in public education. Transparency in decision making, access to timely information, and meaningful participation by Newark's citizens are values central to the Trust."

Barbara Reisman has been Executive Director of The Schumann Fund for New Jersey since 1997.

The Schumann Fund makes program and policy grants in New Jersey to expand access to high quality early childhood education, for environmental protection and education in urban New Jersey, and to improve public education.

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Junius Williams, Esq.

Newark Historian

5373453952_6047062a4b_m.jpg“The community’s voice is vitally important in the conversation of education reform in Newark. As such, The Trust will augment and support the voices already engaged in education reform, providing information and access to other resources as needed. This is one way The Trust helps to align efforts.”

Junius W. Williams is a noted attorney, educator, musician and community advocate. Williams is the founder of RiseUp North Newark, an interactive website that tells stories of the Black Resistance Movement, community building and black politics. Recently, Williams has served as the chairman of Newark Celebration 350, the organization that has planned and financed more than 200 activities to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the city’s founding. Williams is also the founding Executive Director of the Abbott Leadership Institute (ALI), at Rutgers University-Newark, where he taught advocacy skills to parents and professional educators. 

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